2014 NBA Draft: Predictions for Where Top Prospects Will Be Selected

Sean ODonnellContributor IIIJune 12, 2014

Even if a calendar wasn't easily accessible, it's easy to tell the 2014 NBA draft is right around the corner.

Why's that? Because of the tremendous amount of prospect buzz, smoke screens and rumors floating around the web.

We already know predicting where the draft's top prospects will go is a rather daunting task, but as we sift through rumors, the picture grows even murkier.

An example is in order.

At the moment, the draft order seems clear. However, according to a report from Chad Ford of ESPN.com (subscription required), we can expect to see some movement:

Multiple league sources say that there are a surprising number of top picks for "sale" this year.

"I thought getting a lottery pick via trade would be virtually impossible this year," one NBA GM told Insider. "It's not. There are a lot of teams in the lottery right now that would prefer a proven player. A lot of owners have lost their patience with the rebuilding process."

So, there's that.

Despite the ongoing rumors, we'll continue to speculate.

Let's take a look at where a few of the draft's top prospects will wind up when the dust settles on June 26.


1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Andrew Wiggins, SF, Kansas

Who's going No. 1 overall?

This seems to be the biggest question asked since Cleveland's improbable jump to the draft's top spot.

Taking team needs into consideration, Joel Embiid may be a fantastic fit, as the Cavaliers' center situation is highly unsettled. However, according to Ford (subscription required), he may not be the front-runner:

First, team doctors are going to have to get comfortable with [Embiid's] back. If there is any hint that it may require more treatment or need long-term correction, the chances of Embiid going No. 1 dwindle. The Cavs need a player who can play now, and the feeling is that Embiid, who already is the least experienced of the top prospects, can't afford to miss summer league and training camp. You saw what happened to Bennett last season—they don't want to repeat that again this season.

It all comes down to Embiid's back.

Recently, he's looked healthy during workouts, as shown in this tweet from Bleacher Report:

Whether he's actually healthy still remains up in the air.

Take that into consideration, and factor in Wiggins' 17.1 points and 5.9 rebounds per game on a very deep and talented Kansas team.

Wiggins can contribute immediately, but hasn't come close to reaching his peak. With so much upside available for a team looking for a long-term scorer, it just makes sense.

Just in case a refresher is needed, here's a look at what Wiggins has to offer:

Now, that's worthy of a No. 1 pick.


12. Orlando Magic: Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana Lafayette

This may come as a bit of a shocker, but Payton has been surging up draft boards of late—rightfully so.

Payton had a stellar junior season at Louisiana Lafayette, averaging 19.2 points, six rebounds, 5.9 assists and 2.3 steals per game while shooting an impressive 50.9 percent from the field.

Although his three-point shooting dipped to 25.9 percent, he has a solid stroke and the ability to regain his grasp from downtown with a little coaching.

Payton has been impressive over offseason workouts, as ESPN's Jeff Goodman reported the former Ragin' Cajuns standout looked just as sharp as Marcus Smart:

In fact, Ford (subscription required) suggests Payton may not be selected too far behind Smart in this year's draft:

Elfrid Payton appears to be closing the gap considerably—something reflected in Payton's move to No. 13 on our Big Board. Several team sources say he's in the mix at No. 8 in Sacramento after a terrific workout there. The Hornets at No. 9 and the Magic at No. 12 are possibilities, as well. I doubt he gets past the Bulls or Raptors in the mid-first round.

No. 8 to Sacramento—or even No. 9 to Charlotte—may be a little high, considering prospects such as Aaron Gordon and Doug McDermott could still be available.

However, Payton to the Magic at No. 12 overall makes complete sense.

Orlando already has a great shooting guard in Victor Oladipo, and pairing him with Payton could give the Magic one of the most versatile and athletic backcourts in the league.


17. Boston Celtics: Kyle Anderson, SF, UCLA

The Celtics need help across the board. Acquiring well-rounded players who can contribute in multiple phases of the game will allow this team to make a swift transition back to its winning ways.

Anderson fits the bill perfectly.

Standing at 6'8.5" with shoes on, weighing 230 with a wingspan of 7'2.75", Anderson has phenomenal measurables for an NBA small forward.

His progression from his freshman to his sophomore year at UCLA was simply stunning. Last season, Anderson averaged 14.6 points, 8.8 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game while shooting 48.0 percent from the field and an impressive 48.3 percent from downtown.

All of those numbers were dramatic increases from one year prior.

According to Goodman, Anderson's kept up that trend during workouts, and the Celtics have noticed:

Anderson's ability to score, distribute and rebound effectively should have Boston immensely intrigued with its second first-round selection.


All combine measurements courtesy of DraftExpress.


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